Thursday 14 April 2022

Maundy Thursday

 A painting for Maundy Thursday – Tintoretto's magnificent Christ Washing the Feet of the Disciples, which can be seen in the National Gallery, though it should really be in the church of San Trovaso in Venice, where it hung opposite the Tintoretto Last Supper (which is still there, with a copy of Christ Washing the Feet opposite). An English collector bought Christ Washing the Feet in the 1790s, and it found its way to the National Gallery via the Duke of Hamilton's collection. The washing of the feet, Christ's resoundingly eloquent gesture of humility and service, was a favourite subject of Tintoretto's.
  Incidentally, I hope that when (if?) Charles ascends the throne he revives the excellent tradition (defunct since James II) of the pedilavium, in which the monarch washed the feet of the poor on Maundy Thursday. 


  1. Was the washing of feet part of the mainstream Anglican Holy Thursday service?

    I see from an Tridentine missal that in the old days (I suppose before about 1965) the ceremony was not part of a Mass, as it is now. And as best I can judge, those whose feet the archbishop washes are not the poor, rather probably laity selected for their involvement with the church.

  2. I think it was, George – maybe still is in some places. Suitably sanitised, we can be sure. In the old royal ceremony the feet of the poor were washed three times before the monarch touched them...

    1. A Book of Common Prayer, printed in 1945 (in the US), makes no reference to foot-washing on Holy Thursday. On the other hand, its Ash Wednesday service makes no reference to the application ashes, and I do know of Episcopal parishes that certainly do apply them.